ASLEF on Network Rail's report on overrun

13 January 2015

Network Rail says the Christmas overrun at King's Cross was caused by 'a multiplying catalogue of errors' worsened by 'mutual failings' of communication between Network Rail and Govia Thameslink Railway which manages nearby Finsbury Park station, used an emergency alternative but which became overwhelmed and had to be closed for a while during the day. Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne said: 'A number of things went wrong. In addition it is clear that our project back-up plans and the train service plans should have done a much better job in protecting the travelling public from our engineering problems.'

NR said track replacement work at Holloway Junction, north of King's Cross , was 'bedevilled by issues including the removal of the old ballast, scrap rails and sleepers, resulting from failed new equipment. The equipment failures were unexpected, due to the provision of new hardware that had been bought specifically to reduce the risk of breakdown. However this new hardware had not been tested in the railway environment before deployment, and was not reliable when put to use.' Mark Carne said: 'Being sorry is not enough. We have to learn from what happened.'

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers' union, said:'We accept the need for essential engineering works to be done and believe more needs to done to ensure the integrity of the railway but to rely on untested hardware that apparently caused the problems borders on negligence.

'So Kings Cross was untested hardware and Paddington was just not enough time built in to validate the work done.  Apologies are obviously not adequate to those who pay extortionate fares and those who went to operate trains not knowing when or if they would get home.'

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